On my way to the club, I walked hunched in the drizzle behind a fellow in a leather jacket with white paint on the back: "Punks not dead." I pondered this idea and assumed we were heading to the same place, only to watch him pass by Geno's without a glance.

The statement stuck with me as the opening band began to play. Their vocals were right on — a raspy snarl bantered over fuzzy distorted, wailing guitars, and precisely militant drum beats. They covered obscure old-school punk bands, and praised punk legend GG Allin. But ideologically something bothered me about them. Here were a band playing subversive music, but making tasteless jokes about knocking girls up, cancer, and the AIDS epidemic. It struck me that there is a boundary a band should not cross when trying to make statements; "offensive" and "subversive" are certainly not the same thing. I began to doubt the dude's leather jacket's claim. But then, Big Meat Hammer played.

When BMH got on stage a certain energy gathered in the room. It's the kind of feeling you get at a show when you watch a band with strong senses of self and purpose. The crowd and I gathered at the foot of the stage, most knocking back Schlitz and singing along. Since 1989, BMH have been shaking up notions of conformity in a small city where it's easy to get lost in the flow of the next-most-talked-about commodity/band. These types of shows should be unifying, not alienating, and that's exactly what the set got across. You could call them classic, true to their scene, old-school punk rock. Their performance Sunday (my first time seeing them) reaffirmed for me the idea that there is a timelessness to punk rock's original ideologies, and that they are still very much alive. 

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